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Deer herds may be culled

PUBLISHED: 14:22 04 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:42 05 July 2010

Herds of deer which roam the East Anglian countryside may be culled in a bid to combat increasing numbers of the animals, which damage trees and arable crops.

Herds of deer which roam the East Anglian countryside may be culled in a bid to combat increasing numbers of the animals, which damage trees and arable crops.

Conservation areas along the Suffolk coast are home to hundreds of red deer but they are foraging further afield on to private farmland, and populations in Breckland are also on the increase.

While the deer are responsible for thousands of pounds worth of damage to crops and trees every year, they are also popular among animal lovers, and this autumn's red deer rut at the RSPB's Minsmere reserve, south of Southwold, attracted hundreds of visitors.

Deer are culled on some farm estates to keep numbers under control, but no such policy is implemented in Suffolk's conservation areas, where more than 300 red deer roam wild, because the animals do not threaten the important heath land wildlife habitat.

Now the Deer Initiative - a group made up of statutory, voluntary and private partners to help control the UK's deer population - is trying to bring landowners and conservation officials together to try to reach an agreement on ways to manage increasing deer numbers.

David Hooton, eastern region liaison officer for the Deer Initiative, said there had been increasing reports of groups of red deer from the coast and the Brecks moving in to the middle ground between the two.

He said: “The management of deer populations is a huge challenge throughout the region. A lot of the evidence is anecdotal, but landowners believe they are seeing more red deer than they were 10 years ago.”

In January 2003 animal rights campaigners gathered at dawn in Bacton Woods, near North Walsham, to fight against plans to cull muntjac and Chinese water deer living in the area.

Forest Enterprise, the business arm of the Forestry Commission, said it was part of routine management to cull deer and that they were causing major damage to trees, stripping the bark and making them commercially worthless.

The Deer Initiative and the Anglian Woodland Project is sponsoring a meeting of farmers, landowners and conservation officials at Yoxford Village Hall at 10am on November 13.

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